Monday, July 8, 2013

States of Depletion

I've been practicing noticing my states of depletion.

For most of us, I'd venture a guess that our baseline state is depletion.  We run on empty.  We burn the midnight oil and the candle at both ends.  We keep our nose to the grindstone and any cliche you can think of.

In fact, it is encouraged! Celebrated even! For my adult-working life I've been just as guilty as the next person.

But depletion is exhausting.  It isn't fun.  It's stressful. It makes us distracted. It's not how we were meant to function for extended periods of time.

The human body, however, is so wonderfully adaptive that we've adjusted to depletion and think it's normal. We've forgotten that things can be easier and more joyful.

If you want to move out of depletion, the first step is to recognize states of depletion while we're in them.  Which is very hard at first because, duh, we are depleted and think it's normal.

To recognize depletion, it can help to think about what your daily life looks like when you are in Flow (as in life in general feels smooth and easy. Not to be confused with small-f flow which is "being in the zone" on a task.).

For me when life feels easy: I workout almost every day, enjoy puttering around the house, follow artistic pursuits, have a desire to keep things orderly, try new things, nothing is “overly” important (e.g. deadlines don’t feel looming), I feel a proportionate gravity/levity to each situation.

For me when I'm depleted: my kitchen is a disaster, there is no food in the house, my email inboxes are out of control, I've skipped workouts for a week, I can’t wait to get into PJs with a glass of wine in front of the TV after work, I don’t love my body.

It wasn't actually hard for me to come up with these lists (I should probably think harder and add more to the depleted list).  I suspect you'd be fairly quick at making your initial lists, too. For many people, depletion starts to show up in the body (weight loss / gain), or the mood (crabby, down), or as mental distractions (clumsiness, forgetfulness).

While it might be easy to come up with my list of depletion signs, what's harder to do is to recognize my messy kitchen is actually a sign that I'm getting depleted - and then to stop to do something about the depletion and not the kitchen.